Palo Alto Weekly

Cover Story - December 10, 2010

About the author: Grace Yukiko Kuffner

In Grace Yukiko Kuffner's winning story, "The Kitchen Maid's Apprentice," protagonist Ava, a lowly and lonely domestic servant, strikes up a forbidden friendship with a sassy young princess, Aurora, whose family Ava serves. Though the oppressive adults in the kingdom prohibit the two from spending time together, the girls ultimately find a way to keep their BFF status intact — through the magic of writing.

Kuffner, age 12, said she was inspired by Gail Carson Levine's "Ella Enchanted" and other modern re-workings of classic fairytales.

And though this is her second time entering the Weekly's annual contest, she said she's not yet a prolific writer, although she does have ideas brewing in her imagination.

"I have a lot of unwritten stories in my head," said the Terman Middle School seventh grader.

Her favorite school subjects include Spanish and social studies but the sci-fi fan is also interested in becoming an inventor.

"That would give me a lot of freedom so I could still be an author, too," she explained.

Another potential venture is illustrating her own stories.

"I like to read and draw. I'd like to do that," she said.

Kuffner said she's not interested in basing any characters on herself or her own, real-world life. "That gets boring," she said.

However, her favorite character from her story is the princess Aurora, whom she based on her younger sister.

"They're both strong-willed and creative."

Her next story may be based on an idea that came to her in her sleep.

"I had a dream I was 1 inch tall. That's under construction," she said.

— Karla Kane

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